The Yinka Dene Alliance is sending 30 people on the Freedom Train ranging in age from youths of 16 to elders up to age 67. The Yinka Dene delegation will be joined on the train by representatives of other First Nations who are also deeply involved in the fight to keep their territories and waters free from Enbridge’s proposed tar sands oil pipelines and supertankers.
Here are some of the representatives on the Freedom Train:
Chief Martin Louie, Nadleh Whut’en
Biography to come.
Chief Dolly Abraham, Takla Lake
Dolly Abraham is a chief from the Takla Lake First Nation. She has been in a Councilor position for four years, and has been in Chief's position going on 6 years - the longest running leader in the community of Takla.
As Dolly comes From Takla her Dad Peter Abraham originally from Bear lake (Frog Clan), and her Mom Catherine Abraham is originally from Takla (Caribou Clan). Dolly has 6 brothers and two sisters, a common-law husband Eddie and Daughter Lauralee, and a grandson, Jordon.
In her past work Dolly has been as a Family Care worker and Band social worker. She spoke at the CAMA conference in Winnipeg as a representative of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM) which received a Special Award on Boreal Forest for Conservation. Dolly has protected her lands in the past by blockading, protecting it from forestry, mining, and other industries. Dolly went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to protect the Amazay Lake from being used as acid drainage storage for the Kemess Mine and this was a victory for Takla, as the Panel Review of CEAA gave the rights to Aboriginal people for social economic to use the land. To this day, Takla people still practice their Aboriginal rights and title, and Takla members still live off the land. Dolly also arranged for a Harvard Law study called Bearing the Burden which was distributed world-wide. Dolly continues to fight for what’s right for her people and represents the Takla Community as part of the Yinka Dene Alliance as they oppose Enbridge from entering the Yinka Dene territories.
Chief Jackie Thomas, Saik’uz
Jackie Thomas is of the frog clan at Saik’uz. She is a mother of four and proud grandmother of one. Jackie has been working for her community for over 25 years in various capacities. Currently she completing her 6th year as the elected chief and still hunts, fishes, collects berries, and medicines in the territory.
Hereditary Chief Tsodih, Nak’azdli
Tsoh Dih was leader of the Dakelh when Europeans came to Nakazdli in 1806. Tsohdih was recognized as the leader who stopped the wars in the region and made allies of the neighbors of the Dakelh in order to bring peace and prosperity to the region.
Although outlawed and penalized we continued our government system of Bahlats. The name Tsohdih was passed down and in 1965 it was granted to Pete Erickson.
Pete Erickson was born to Lewis and Sally Erickson and was raised in a traditional family setting where education was essential and utmost respect for the land was expected. Leaving the land without a mark as though we had never been there was strived for, and also demanded of others using our territory.
Pete Erickson was an RCMP officer for 26 years, retiring with the rank of Corporal in 2007. He is a father of two children and currently lives at Nakazdli.
"It is not that we don’t want prosperity for our nation, we cannot have development that can destroy the very fabric of our Being. We have participated in many different forms of industry however after careful scrutiny we have decided that there will be no oil pipelines allowed in Dakelh territory.
Hereditary Chief Na’Moks, Tsayu Clan, Wet’suwet’en
John Ridsdale is a member of the Tsayu Clan, House of Tsa K’ex Yex. He lives in Tse Kya (Hagwilget) and works in Smithers at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en’s Natural Resources Department.
Since becoming a member of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en team, he has taken on the responsibility of carrying the Hereditary Chief name of Na’Moks, Chief of the Tsayu (Beaver) Clan. A name he does not carry lightly, as there are roles and responsibilities that must be fulfilled above all others. The main portion of his duties is to ensure that the land of the Wet’suwet’en is taken care of in a manner that is consistent with the Wet’suwet’en Values and Traditions. Following Wet’suwet’en laws regarding protection of land, people, culture and maintaining the laws of our Feast Hall, as this is our House of Parliament and our place of worship.
In his role as Resource Referral Coordinator, John coordinates the Wet’suwet’en’s response to resource development proposals on Wet’suwet’en territory. The Office of the Wet’suwet’en exercise governance over the management of resources within their territory; the referral assessment process is of importance to provide better decision making information to communities, and maintain Wet’suwet’en cultural identity.
He also sits on the Wet’suwet’en Unlocking Aboriginal Justice Advisory Board, Child Welfare Advisory Board and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en Executive Committee.
His educational background includes studies in environmental stewardship, governance, sociology and business administration. John’s interests include hunting, history and culture.
Geraldine Thomas-Flurer, Yinka Dene Alliance
My name is Geraldine Thomas Flurer, I am from Saikuz and born into the Frog Clan. I was raised by my Grandmother the late Dr. Sophie Thomas, Traditional Medicine Woman. I am married to a wonderful Sahtu Dene hunter and have four children and two grandsons. I attended school at Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria and currently work as the coordinator for the Yinka Dene Alliance. I don't want to say I am an environmentalist, because being Carrier/Cree we naturally care for Mother Earth as it is our responsibility. I am a board member for the BC Aboriginal Tourism Board, and have held many leadership roles in urban society, where I received a leadership award for my role as President of the Prince George Native Friendship Center. My Grandmother always said "If you take care of mother earth, she will take care of you, if you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself". So I am proud to walk in the footsteps of my Grandmother until we meet again.
Anne Ketlo, Nadleh Whut’en
Biography to come.
Jasmine Thomas, Yinka Dene youth representative, Saik’uz
Jasmine Thomas is of Carrier/Cree descent raised in her mother Geraldine Thomas-Flurer’s traditional territory of Saik’uz and is a member of the frog clan (steward of the water). Taught by her late maternal great-grandmother Sophie Thomas, traditional healer for the Yinka Dene (People of the Land), she continues the ancient practice of traditional medicines with her grandmother Minnie Thomas within her community. She has studied Environmental Planning at the University of Northern BC and has also attended the Greenland-based International Training Centre of Indigenous Peoples. She is also a youth advocate and organizer for the Yinka Dene Alliance on a broad range of social, environmental and climate justice issues. Jasmine has also been involved in the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign with the Indigenous Environmental Network bringing national and international attention to this issue. She is currently a youth engagement worker for various northern-interior BC communities focusing on holistic health issues and youth empowerment.